Calgary Herald

Saturday 9 June 2001

Father tried to visit babies

Contact with mother refused, claims estranged boyfriend

Jason van Rassel
Calgary Herald


Rie Fujii

The father of a toddler found dead in a vacant apartment said his estranged girlfriend stymied his attempts to see his son and the boy's missing infant sister at every turn.

Rie Fujii, 23, is in jail after police found the body of her 15-month-old son, Dominic Ryu Brown, in a Victoria Park apartment Tuesday. Police have also spent two days this week searching the Bow River for Dominic's three-month-old sister Gemini based on the belief Fujii wrapped the infant in plastic bags and dumped her body in the waterway.

The children's father, Peter Brown, said Friday that Fujii ended their four-year relationship four months ago.

Brown said Fujii and her friends wouldn't tell him where she or the children went.

"This is a tragic event in my life," Peter Brown said in an interview.

"They knew where she was and wouldn't tell me where she was and now this has happened. It could have been prevented."

Fujii moved into the 14th Avenue S.E. apartment where Dominic was found in May. Neighbours said they heard a baby crying for days at a time just prior to Fujii moving out suddenly at the end of the month.

"From what I've heard, she left my son and took off to Cochrane and partied for four days straight and left my son alone in that apartment," Brown told Global News.

Police believe Dominic died several days before he was found and homicide investigators have charged Fujii with failing to bury a human body.

Fujii turned herself into police Wednesday, and after speaking to investigators, police learned of Gemini's existence and began a search of the Bow River.

High water levels have hampered divers' efforts and a second day of searching in waters near Prince's Island turned up nothing.

"The river's still high and murky and we'll wait until it subsides and clears up and we'll search again," said Staff Sgt. George Rocks of the Calgary police homicide unit.

Fujii came to Calgary to learn English about four years ago and studied briefly at Mount Royal College.

Sources have told the Herald Fujii had her student visa extended at least twice but it ran out in August 1999.

She is being held on an immigration warrant, as well as the criminal charge.

Japanese consular officials based in Edmonton visited Fujii in jail Friday, but wouldn't say what -- if any -- assistance they've extended to her.

"Somebody from this office went to see her," Japanese consul Schigeki Hamaguchi said through a translator.

Police have contacted Fujii's parents in Shimane prefecture at the southern tip of Japan's main island, Honshu.

It turns out Fujii hid the existence of her two children from her parents.

The first Fujii's parents learned of the children was in the call from police.

Hideto Fujii said he and his wife, Tomoko, would have done something to help had they known about the children and their daughter's troubles.

Their 23-year-old daughter may have feared their response, but he said they would have welcomed their grandchildren into the family.

The couple now plans to come to Calgary to visit with their daughter.

Investigators, meantime, are looking at diaries turned over to police this week in which Fujii reportedly writes about the difficulty of raising Dominic.

Entries from the beginning of September 2000 tell of the pleasure of raising Dominic.

"I asked Dom to say mama and he said Ma-Ma!" read one entry dated Sept. 10.

On Sept. 17, Fujii wrote: "Dominic is so cute all the time. We played a lot today. I think Dom is enjoying staying here with me too."

The tone changed, however, to one of frustration and a longing for the more carefree lifestyle Fujii enjoyed before she had children.

"I hate my stupid living. I've decided to live like I used to," she wrote.

Police said the diary entries "paint a picture" that will be useful to investigators, who also want to talk to Brown.

Brown, who is facing outstanding warrants, however, isn't yet willing to speak to police.

"I don't think I should sit in jail after finding this out," he said.

Fujii, meanwhile, is scheduled to appear in provincial court Monday morning and has hired lawyer Bob Batting.

Batting, who said he spoke to Fujii for an hour Friday, wouldn't comment on her mental state but added he expects the Crown to seek a psychiatric assessment.

The lawyer said he had heard second-hand on Friday that police have placed an immigration hold on the woman, who is a Japanese citizen, in relation to her status in Canada.

"If there is an immigration hold on her, she has the potential to be detained by Canada Immigration as well as for the (criminal) matters you're aware of," said Batting.

"I don't anticipate a bail hearing on Monday."

Fujii was a customer at the Centre Point Grocery and Deli, kitty-corner to her apartment building.

"My wife saw her come in here with her little boy," said owner Khun Ly. "She didn't have the infant with her. My wife saw the girl was Japanese and so they talked about Japan."

Tia Ly met Fujii only once, about a month ago.

Copyright © 2001 CanWest Interactive